‘We ditched the UK for sunny Lanzarote – bills are cheap so we’ve retired early’

A couple detailed why they ditched the UK to retire early in the gorgeous Spanish island of Lanzarote. They say they are now "living the dream" as they are mortgage-free and get to spend all day in the sun.

Helen and Stephen Walker decided to make the move after a devastating year in which three people close to them died. They quit their property business, sold their three-bed semi-detached home in Cosby, Leicestershire, and relocated to Yaiza, a town on the Lanzarote in the Canary Islands.

Lanzarote is exceptionally popular with Brits who go on holiday – thanks to its year round great weather, beautiful beaches and bright blue ocean. Plus, according to Pint Price a pint of beer will cost you just £1.52 in Arrecife, the capital of the island.

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Helen, 56, and Stephen, 55, are now financially free and spend their days exploring and relaxing. They say they'd never have been able to retire in the UK at such an early age but life is much cheaper in Lanzarote and so they no longer have to work.

The mum said: "We're living the dream. We never got a break at home. We could never afford to take early retirement in the UK." Helen and Stephen didn't even get to go on holidays often when they lived in Britain as they were self-employed.

So even when they were away, they'd be answering phone calls and messages about work. However, one year Helen convinced Stephen to come away on holiday to Lanzarote and they fell in love with the place.

She said: "We came to Lanzarote and loved it so much. We were walking straight out to sea and he turned around and said 'I could live here'. I said I could live here as well."

With Brexit looming at the time, Helen and Stephen had to act fast if they wanted their dream to come true. It was the loss of three of their friends that gave them the final push to move to the Spanish island.

Helen said: "We lost three people in that year. We thought 'We need to do it now. We can't think about the kids here – we're going before grandchildren. Otherwise we'd never do it."

They found it hard to leave their children behind but their youngest daughter, Kate Walker, now 22, went to live with their son James Sorrell, 29. Helen said: "We put the house on the market. In December 2019 we travelled all down the island looking at where we wanted to live.

"We found a newbuild in Yaiza and thought 'this is the place'." The couple sold their UK home for £225,000, and bought the three-bedroom Lanzarote property for £220,000 so they even made a few quid on the move.

They moved out in January 2020 and bought their new home in the February – just before lockdown hit in March. Helen said: "Luckily we had the kitchen done before lockdown.".

They've since spent about £34,600 renovating their home in Lanzarote – but they have no mortgage and low bills meaning they have a lot more money to play around with. Before the move, they were shedding out £650-a-month on a mortgage, and £230 for their gas, electric and water bills in the UK.

Helen said: "There's no mortgage and no finance. It's a lot cheaper here to live. I could never retire in the UK." The retired couple spend their days going on walks around the island, enjoying coffee and lunch together and having chilled out evenings in their lounge where they watch TV shows.

They also go out for food or drinks when friends are visiting them on the island and around once a week together. Helen said: "Our fitness is fantastic. We do 8,000 to 10,000 steps a day. We travel around the island. We can travel from one end of the island to the other in 45 minutes.

"My view is the Timanfaya national park. The language barrier is a problem sometimes but we're learning Spanish." Helen has "no regrets" but does say she misses her kids.

She said: "It's just lovely but I miss my children. Taking my kids to the airport after a visit is the hardest thing. I cry and cry.

"But we're only a four hour flight away." Helen said Lanzarote has now become home for the couple and they plan to stay there for the foreseeable. She said: "We're never bored. There's always something to do. This is my home."

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